Meriza DeGuzman At The '07 Figure Nationals: This Is How I Did It!

Figure for me really started as a hobby. However, in the past two years I have been able to take it to a whole new level! See what I did to prepare for the ’07 Nationals right here.

Competing in Figure has been a whirlwind experience for me the past two years. Having hung up my clear heels for a few months, I'm now deep into my short "off-season" and I've got a chance to sit back and reflect on a very successful 2007 competitive year.

Figure for me really started as a hobby. My dad still calls my job (I'm a personal trainer) "a hobby that got out of control." Although I was a gymnast during most of my school years, in the beginning exercise was something I did mostly just for fun. But my body responded quickly. I soon found myself on the competition stage.

Meriza Meriza
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I Soon Found Myself
On The Competition Stage.

In the past two years, after I began working with my trainer/nutritionist, Pete Ciccone (he's also my significant other, by the way!) I started taking my competitive career much more seriously. I was fortunate to have earned several top placings on the Southern California NPC competition circuit in 2004 and 2005, but when Peter first adjusted my nutritional plan for the start of 2006, things really started picking up.

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Pete Ciccone.

I won the overall Figure at the 2006 San Diego Championships, and then won my class at the prestigious L.A. Championships a few months later. From there, I placed 2nd out of more than 30 girls at the 2006 USA's. It was my first time on a National level stage - I was so nervous! I remember I trained so hard for that show!

Placing 2nd in my first crack at the top level in the NPC was a proving ground of sorts for me. I wasn't sure if I had what it took - I had to test myself again. I worked really hard to improve on my package, which I took to the 2006 North Americans several weeks later. I placed 2nd here as well. With new found confidence (and encouraged by Peter's faith in my potential) we mapped out our plan for 2007.

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I Had To Test Myself Again.

The 2007 competitive season was planned purposefully with the anticipation of success. We started at the Junior Nationals in June, where I placed 3rd behind two amazing short-class competitors, Jen Gates and Huong Arcinas. Placing 3rd was tough, but we knew my physique was close. We evaluated the judging trend, decided I needed to come in a bit leaner, what Peter called more "waif-like". We re-vamped my training program to focus more on fine-tuning my already lean physique, to bring in a tighter package.

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Huong Arcinas.

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Training & Nutrition Plan

I was a very lean 100lbs at the Junior Nationals in June. Here's a brief review of my training and nutritional plan as I prepared for the 2007 Figure Nationals.

We had several discussions with Joey Rodrigues, founder of MAN Sports, regarding my situation - I was already lean but needed to lose that last little bit of body fat without dieting away any hard-earned muscle. Joey reviewed my supplementation plan, making some recommendations including MAN Sports awesome products, Scorch, Vaporize and Body Octane.

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I've never been very consistent with supplementation until this year. And although I'm very much an advocate of the power of real food and nutrition, careful supplementation can be the missing link to success. And in my case, proper supplementation made the difference in my physique that led to success!

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I began my prep with cardio each day, only 250 calories per session. As we got closer, my cardio volume increased, up to as much as 1,000 calories, 7 sessions per week.

I ran a lot for cardio for past shows, but this time we changed up my cardio to climbing the stair mill. The fuller range of motion and more challenging vertical climbing burned more calories while challenging my lower body muscles more than simply running did. I hated that darn stair mill. By show time, I was ready to take a hammer to it! But it worked! By show time, I was down to 97lbs, tighter than ever!

Benefits Of Cardio!
Cardio, short for cardiovascular exercise, is any movement that gets your heart rate up and increases blood circulation. Learn 5 key benefits of performing cardio right here!
[ Click here to learn more. ]

At the Figure Nationals, 2 pro cards were awarded to the top two athletes of the 34 girls in the short class. One of those IFBB Pro qualifications was mine!

I couldn't believe it! All of the hard work, hours and hours of cardio and weight-training, and a two-year journey ended in success!

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Note: Meriza DeGuzman is a sponsored athlete for MAN Sports. She and her fiance, Peter Ciccone, share a personal training business and own a supplement store, 619 Muscle, located inside World Gym, San Diego. For more information about Meriza, or to contact her, see her website,